BlackBerry Venice may be the company's first Android slider

The touchscreen slider phone BlackBerry teased earlier this year may not have BlackBerry OS; reports indicate the Venice could be an Android handset.

The next hot new Android handset may be coming from an unlikely company: BlackBerry.

Last month, Reuters reported that BlackBerry was considering such a device and on Friday, leaked renders of the BlackBerry Venice running Android appeared from noted industry tipster Evan Blass:

blackberry-venice.png

The rendered image resembles the BlackBerry slider phone the company briefly showed off earlier this year at Mobile World Congress 2015. That device had a full touchscreen covering a sliding hardware keyboard.

Presumably at that time, the phone would run BlackBerry's own software but perhaps the company has had a change of heart. Or it could offer the phone with a choice of operating systems.

If the Venice does arrive with Android -- rumored to be coming to AT&T -- it won't be the first tie-in with Google's mobile platform. After launching the 7-inch BlackBerry Playbook, the company added Android app support to help flesh out third-party software for the tablet. And more recently, BlackBerry integrated Amazon's Appstore on its phones; those apps are actually Android-compatible as well.

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Does it make sense for the company to go "all in" on Android software for BlackBerry hardware?

I think so. BlackBerry makes most of its money from software and services these days; not from hardware. But with Android software on phones, it could boost its both its hardware revenues and those from software and services.

The company has already spent considerable time and effort to get the Android ecosystem on BlackBerry handsets while also building its own apps for the platform; as well as for iOS and Windows Phone. It's clear based on market share and sales that the world isn't quite clamoring for BlackBerry's OS, so why not provide the more popular Android experience?

The company can supplement it with BBM, BlackBerry Blend and BBM Meetings for Android along with future apps and services to far wider audience. Frankly, it has little to lose by using Android as the base software on the Venice and future BlackBerry handsets.